TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed Karri Ramo to a professional tryout, but general manager Lou Lamoriello insists that there is no plan right now for the 30-year-old goaltender.
Ramo has been cleared to medically return from a left knee injury (torn ACL and meniscus) and will play later this week for the Toronto Marlies, the Leafs' AHL affiliate. The decision would appear to set the stage for Ramo to replace Jhonas Enroth as the Leafs backup goaltender, but Lamoriello said that's not the case.
"There is no plan right now. In other words, we don't know where (Ramo is) at," Lamoriello told the Canadian Press in an interview on Tuesday afternoon. "He hasn't played in a while. We'll keep every option open. We wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't keep every option open, but there is no plan in place..."
Enroth cleared waivers on Tuesday afternoon, but Lamoriello said Ramo's signing was unrelated.
"It has nothing to do with the decision on Jhonas Enroth," he said. "Things just weren't working out to this point for whatever reason on the starts that he was giving."
Lamoriello said the timing of Ramo's medical clearance just happened to align with the decision to demote Enroth, who will join Ramo and Garret Sparks with the Marlies.
Twenty-two-year-old Antoine Bibeau, who's yet to play an NHL game, will back up Frederik Andersen at the NHL level.
The Leafs were unhappy with Enroth's early season performance, during which the 28-year-old registered an .872 save percentage, albeit in only four starts (all of them on the second half of a back-to-back). The five-foot-10 Swedish goaltender was signed to a one-year deal worth US$750,000 in the summer.
"It just wasn't working," Lamoriello said of Enroth, who gave up three goals on 29 shots in his last start against Calgary. "You make these decisions and it's not that you over-react or not that you push a button, it's just that you have a feeling for this."
Toronto has been relying heavily on Andersen with Enroth struggling. Andersen will start for the 21st time in 25 games Wednesday night when the Leafs host the Minnesota Wild.
"We'd like a backup to play 20 games if we could," Leafs coach Mike Babcock said after practice on Tuesday.
Lamoriello said he was in contact with Ramo and his agent after last season to see what the injured goaltender's status was for the 2016-17 season. The club determined that Ramo, injured on Feb. 11 against San Jose, wouldn't be ready for the start of the year. They pursued other goaltenders as a result, eventually landing on Enroth.
Ramo has been rehabbing at the Leafs practice facility, even participating in practice with the Leafs at one point.
Lamoriello insisted repeatedly that the club hadn't yet settled on the Finnish goaltender as the long-term back-up option this season, though it certainly appears so given Bibeau's inexperience and mediocre performance with the Marlies (.907 save percentage).
Ramo was serviceable as a part-time starter with the Calgary Flames last season, posting a .909 save percentage in 37 games before the injury. Whether he's able to regain that past form post-injury remains the question.
"Our Marlies team is for development and it's also to see where players are at and what potentially can help the Maple Leafs," Lamoriello said.
Jonas Siegel, The Canadian Press